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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Health Impacts of Moving Freight In and Out of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles

  • Author(s): Lee, Gunwoo
  • You, Soyoung (Iris)
  • Sangkapichai, Mana
  • Ritchie, Stephen G.
  • Saphores, Jean-Daniel
  • Ogunseitan, Oladele
  • Ayala, Roberto
  • Jayakrishnan, R.
  • Torres, Rodolfo
  • et al.

The San Pedro Bay Port (SPBP) of Los Angeles and Long Beach is the largest container port in the U.S. Although the benefits of handling and hauling freight are enjoyed by the nation as a whole, the traffic congestion and air pollution created by the port falls mostly on the people who live and work nearby and along connecting freight corridors. These corridors include two busy freeways, the I-710 and the I-110, and an active rail link, the Alameda corridor. 

This research studied the environmental and health impacts of freight operations between the SPBP and downtown Los Angeles, some 22 miles to the north. In our analysis of health impacts, we focused on nitrogen oxide (NOX), a contributor to the formation of photo-chemical smog, and fine-grain particulates (PM10), which can lodge in peoples’ lungs with repeated exposure. We combined estimates of air pollutants from the I-710 and I-110 freeways, line-haul rail lines, and rail yards and looked at them for summer and winter. Four models were linked together to assess impacts: a microscopic traffic simulation model (TransModeler), which describes vehicle behavior; an emissions model (EMFAC 2007), which estimates the impacts of congestion on air pollution; a pollutant dispersion model (CALPUFF), which calculates how emissions move in a region’s atmosphere; and a health impact model (BenMAP), which calculates various pollutants’ effects on health using the incidence of various pollution-related illnesses.

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